The paper is devoted to the elaboration of token economy system for students, who prefer being absent at classes. The reasons of absence were considered, and appropriate tokens were suggested. The class of juniors, who studied Microeconomics, was taken for conducting an experiment with tokens in the form of additional marks. These marks gave an opportunity at the end of the course to choose the exam questions personally based on their complexity and quantity, namely to create an examination card, and an opportunity to decide how to pass an exam, namely completion of the test, oral discussion, presentation preparation or article publication. The reasons were collected using quiz method. The experiment duration was two months.
Token economy system is a popular tool for managing a human’s behavior. It is an effective method of intervention that is relatively easy to customize and implement, with the proviso that everything is done correctly. Token economy system can be very successful tool to increase the level of the desired behavior, assignments and academic skills development. If the desired increase in data responses from the human is managed to be achieved, this, in turn, will reduce the level of problematic behaviors.Miltenberger (2008) lists seven components, which must be defined in the implementation of token economy system. These include: target behavior that should be strengthened; tokens to be used as a conditional reinforcement; reinforcer for immediate exchange of tokens; reinforcement program for issuing tokens; required number of tokens for exchange; time and place for the exchange of tokens on a direct reinforcer. Sometimes it includes a component of response-cost when unwanted conduct target must be identified and suppressed by the loss of previously received tokens.
In order to implement token economy system in the university the criteria of lessons’ attendance was chosen. The fact that students do not attend lessons is well-known, and it is a big problem. So, absence at lessons depends mostly on the course the student learns. Thus, there is a logical explanation. Freshmen faced with the challenge of adapting to the new conditions of learning. Sophomores may have problems with peers and classmates. Juniors got tired from the study because of the large number of subjects studied; often a decline in motivation to acquire knowledge, as well as disappointment in their chosen profession appears. Seniors look for extra income, combining study and work.
Nevertheless, there are other important reasons of students’ absence at lessons, so they should be examined and appropriate stimuli should be suggested as tokens.
A behavioral definition
The behavioral definition means usual absence of juniors at Microeconomics lesson, which starts at 10 a.m. It is important to define reasons of absence and in order to understand the efficiency of implementation of token economy system the form of additional marks is used. These marks will give an opportunity at the end of the course to choose the exam questions personally based on their complexity and quantity, namely to create an examination card, and an opportunity to decide how to pass an exam, namely completion of the test, oral discussion, presentation preparation or article publication.
A recording method
In order to establish the reasons of low performance of students and low the attendance of lessons was surveyed. So the method of differential reinforcement was used. 20 students took part in the experiment from the class. 50% (10 students) of respondents attend lessons every day without absenteeism. 25% (five students) name the reason of absenteeism as the sickness, and they almost always pass all tests, but sometimes can have maximum one or two missed assignments. 15% (three students) explain their absence as being busy at work. Rest 10% (two students) can be absent due to force-majeure, as transport problems, missed awaking, some important cases, family problems, etc. Every lesson these students put their signatures near their last names, when they were present and in case of their absence their classmates note the reasons. The lesson was once a week, so during two months there were 9 lessons. For every present lesson, the lecturer gives five marks.
Reliability = 1 lesson * 5 marks. The total possible amount is 45 marks.
Social validity is any manifestation of social activity (the movement, behavior, reaction, position, etc.), oriented to others. It is the simplest unit (single act) of social activities, assuming (considering) certain expectations and reactions of other people. In order to build an efficient educational process, the reasons of absenteeism must also be considered from the point of views of teachers, psychologists, and even the police.
Thus, several psychologists and teachers say that the main reasons for poor progress of students, and their absence at lectures are low motivation of students, problems with teachers, and lack of career counseling. Therefore, interest in the chosen profession, as well as subjects that the student studies at high educational institution is lost. An important factor that affects the behavior of a very young man to go to college, as well as during the study, is the parent – child relationship, which include many factors. It includes the atmosphere in the family, personal attitude to the student, as well as to the profession he had chosen. Each case requires a careful study of the psychologist. The relationship with classmates is also very important factor. If the atmosphere is tense, it is not surprising that the interest in education is lost. Important aspect that affects the mood of the person is financial position. Perhaps it’s not quite pedagogical or psychological reason, but serious personal experiences and anxiety can be developed based on it, which reduces interest in the learning process and, as a consequence, reduces performance.
Sometimes the performance is reduced in very capable students who miss lessons of laziness. Further, they are faced with the lack of information, so the relationship between the themes of the subject is lost, and then it becomes very difficult to understand the material.Thus, outside observers are teachers, psychologists, and even the police.
An experimental design
Repeated measures were used as the method of experimental design. Every Tuesday at 10 a.m. students come into class, put their signatures in the columns of presence and the reasons, why they were absent previous time, if available. They receive five marks for being present at the lesson.
Five marks for attendance are reinforcement. The lesson is held once a week, so during two months there were 9 lessons. The total possible amount is 45 marks. They will give an opportunity for student at the end of the course to choose the exam questions personally based on their complexity and quantity, namely to create an examination card. In addition they give an opportunity to decide how to pass an exam, namely completion of test, oral discussion, presentation preparation or article publication.
The baseline (w/o reinforcement)
The treatment (with reinforcement)
The reversal (w/o reinforcement)
It is noticeable that the reinforcement has a positive impact on the level of students’ attendance the lessons. Because in January 14 there was 55% of absenteeism and in February 11 the level of absenteeism reached 45%. The same concerns other lessons in February in comparison with January.
- Allows the target behavior to be dissolved by the time;
- Allow support reaction at any time;
- Can be used to maintain the performance over a long period of time;
- Less susceptible to the effect of satiety;
- Is a great incentive stimulus.
Reinforcer effectiveness of token economy system is in its gradual disappearance after some positive results.
It is the hardest and most often overlooked part of a token economy system. This system will eventually fail if it does not change! Furthermore, since it is a synthetic reinforcement system, the transition to natural amplifiers is required as further actions. Phasing out of the system can be a complicated process. Such process should be planned in advance, namely it concerns new amplifiers that are more “expensive” (need more tokens to “buy” an amplifier), because some students can ignore the attendance. They do not care about the marks and the effect of their receipt.
Deprivation of all positive reinforcement is one of the variants of extinction. The most effective method is considered as isolation, but in real life it is practically reduced to social exclusion, for example, in the case of removal of a student from the class while maintaining the environment unchanged. Sometimes this isolation is positive reinforcement or means the termination of an unpleasant stimulus that was available in the real world (for example, the absence of collision of the students with aggressively pursuing teacher’s line of behavior at lessons, i.e., in fact, there is a situation of negative reinforcement).
In case students after a month of experiment duration miss lessons as previously, they will be allowed sometimes to come a little later, for example, in 15 minutes after the lesson will begin, or asked to warn about lateness via text message or call to the lecturer. The desire to be absent will decrease and there will be no punishments.
Discrimination stimuli are to react differently to different stimuli environment. Concerning token economy system, namely marks for attendance, some students will use this opportunity, because it will help in exam, but others can decide to act as always – miss lessons. The reason can be different in comparison with constant, like inability to find an appropriate job based on qualification. Once the student wakes up and understands that he/she does not want to work on specialty, that’s why there is no need to attend classes. It is better for him/her to begin look for other lessons.
That is opposite to the discrimination training. Thus, if the student prefers receiving additional marks for attendance, but still he is not satisfied enough, there should be some other stimuli. For example, to interest students interested in personal experiences of teachers’ professional work and their opinion on some issues. Interest of the teacher to students may be mutual. Discussion of any issues, solving emerging issues, business discussions and discussion of case studies are important methods of not only the educational process, but also the establishment of high-quality communication between teacher and student.
Friendly, calm tones, creation of a positive climate in the group are other stimuli. The task of the teacher is not just to organize the learning process, but also to regulate, organize communications arising in this complex process. Positive, friendly attitude, even friendly tone is a guarantee of effective labor. Intonation should be enough to highlight important, to emphasize, and make students think. Creek and publicly reprimand only reduce the authority of the teacher making intemperate and helpless in the eyes of the audience.
Additional marks do not guarantee that students will attend other lessons in case of using token economy system at another lesson.
One of the key distinguishing characteristics of the stimulus-imitation activity, constructed in the logic of social learning, compared with the usual skill formation is the time factor and, therefore, appears in an individual additional resource of time to achieve the ultimate goal. If we analyze the specific experimental studies that were conducted from the perspective of this approach, it is more than obvious that the vast majority of these works are devoted to the study of the features of imitation. Students demonstrated mastery (especially on television) and certain while in any case (positively or negatively) evaluated and samples sanctioned activity.
Originally tokens (marks) are given regularly and in higher amounts, but as students learn the desirable behavior, namely to attend lessons, opportunities to earn tokens (marks) reduce. (The amount and frequency of token dispensing is called a reinforcement schedule). For example, in a classroom, each student may earn up to 5 tokens attending the lesson, so that they rapidly learn the value of the tokens. Later, students may be given 3tokens per lesson. By slowly reducing the availability of tokens (fading), students should learn to demonstrate the desirable behavior individually, without the irregular use of tokens. Reinforcers that individuals would normally encounter in society, such as verbal praise, should accompany the awarding of tokens to aid in the fading process.
The emphasis on immediate scope of the knowledge gained. The post of purposes may be preceded by some story or life story, which main goal, of course, is to motivate, i.e. explain to students, where they can apply this knowledge in practice. So-called “linking theory to life” increases the interest and attention of the students.
About learning activities of students, the professional motivation is understood as a set of factors and processes that encourage and guide the individual to study future professional activity. Professional motivation acts as a driver for the internal development of professionalism and personality because only on the basis of its high level of formation, the development of vocational education and training of the person is possibly effective.
Thus, motives of professional activity are to understand the subject of actual needs of the individual (for higher education, self-development, self-knowledge, professional development, social status, etc.), satisfied by the performance of educational tasks and encourage him to study the future professional activity.
The choice of profession by students must be welcomed and approved; as well there should be the focus on important professional competencies and specific issues. A teacher needs to respect the different professions, which students of the educational institution learn. Friendly, calm tone, positive, friendly attitude, bail effective labor. Intonation should be enough to highlight important, to emphasize, make them think. If there are moments of discussion among representatives of various professions, teacher – mentor should be able to explain and convince everyone in the relevance and importance of their profession. It is known from childhood that “all professions are needed; all professions are important”.
Punishment by contingent stimulation
Latecomers are called to the board or will be on duty. Students, who are entering the classroom after the bell, attract the audience’s attention and distract the teacher knocking. Effective method of dealing with offenders is providing them with a job or a response from the board. Alternatively, the “punishment” can bring stragglers to clean the cabinet.
Those who break the discipline prepare reports. Insatiable desire of students to talk in the class room also can be “reinforced”, directing their energy in a positive manner. Such students write papers on topics of current or future topic, having a unique opportunity to talk about something to the audience.
Assignments for practical, laboratory and independent work should be commensurate with the knowledge of students and feasible to perform. Too simple or too complex tasks cause a reduction in motivation and interest to develop new competencies. The complexity of tasks should be approximately equal to the level of knowledge of the audience or a little above, to enable students to analyze and search for information independently.
The fact that negative reinforcement is reinforcement and can assign undesirable activities lead to its memorization and repetition should be taken into account. Despite the fact that negative reinforcement as opposed to punishment more effective, it has much in common with the latter and adversely affects both the learner and the teacher. Completely to get rid of negative reinforcement is difficult, but to reduce it to a minimum is necessary. Effectively reinforce good, ignoring the poor.
That following must be considered during the implementation of token economy system:
- In cases when the method of token economy system is a large scale, affecting a group of persons and the situation in which the training is held, many efforts and time to properly organize the process and train staff to use it correctly.
- Depending on the preferred immediate reinforcements, this process can be costly, as the supporting items to buy.
- Need to weigh whether the expected result (improved behavior) to justify the costs, i.e. wasted time, effort and money to carry out the program.
Nevertheless, when students receive the opportunity to choose the form of exam, they were interested in the requirement to attend lessons.
The process of motivation is a complex system, which has as its basis both biological and social elements. Stimulating isa continuous process directly related to the socialization of the individual. Practical application of methods of motivation has a positive impact on the success rate of students in the educational system.
The interest of all subjects of the educational process in the effectiveness of training, namely the students and the teacher, is the most important.
Shaping, a ratio schedule, an interval schedule, programming and instruction training were not used for conducting an experiment due to the sufficient disclosure of the experiment results via abovementioned techniques.
Miltenberger, R.G. (2008). Behavior Modification Principles and Procedures, 4th ed. Thomas Higher Education, Belmont, CA.